5 Malaysian brands that started with crowdfunding

By Vimal Palasekaran

In the new age of entrepreneurship, various digital means have helped make ingenious ideas come to life. Among these are crowdfunding, where strangers come together to support an idea they believe in.

Although various crowdsourcing means exist, the most-renowned are Kickstarter and Indiegogo, where many projects that were merely virtual before have to come life since.

In recent years, Malaysian entrepreneurs have taken advantage of these opportunities to grow their own businesses, making a mark for themselves both locally and internationally.

Let’s take a look at five homegrown brands that have come to fruition via crowdfunding.

Palm Republik

Palm Republik

A resourceful initiative to turn palm oil waste into something useful, Palm Republik creates stationery out of industry leftovers. It is estimated that for every tonne of palm oil processed, nearly five tonnes of biomass – also known as agricultural waste – is produced. When left unattended, the waste significantly contributes to greenhouse emissions and ultimately global warming.

Having grown up amongst oil palm plantations and seeing the issues plaguing the industry firsthand, Peisy Ting was inspired to embark on a project to address the problems.

After finding the existence of sustainable, tree-free paper called palm paper which was merely used as boxliners before, she decided to create a line of consumer products using this very paper.

Palm Republik

As an environmentally-friendly brand, Palm Republik carries softcover notebooks, hardcover journals, poster prints, notecards, bookmarks and gift tags, all made from palm paper.

Scuro Watches

Scuro Watches

Scuro Watches aims to provide consumers with the option of owning a high quality pilot/dive watch at a fraction of the price found in the market.

One model by the watchmaker to take note of is the Scuro Bronzo, which like the many that came before it, keeps things simple with a strong focus on reliability, one of the most important qualities in a watch meant to serve both pilots and divers.

Boasting features like a bronze super compressor-style case and vibrant dial colours, the Scuro Bronzo is crafted from CuSn8, a marine-grade bronze alloy known to patina nicely with age.

Started by Terrence See of Langkawi, the maison prioritises small but complex movements as well as compact yet intricate designs when crafting its timepieces. All Scuro timepieces are backed by a one-year warranty.

Scuro Watches

Volo Goods

Volo Goods

Although not founded by a Malaysian, Volo Goods are all entirely hand produced in Malaysia.

It began with the goal of creating long-lasting minimalistic leather goods with carefully considered details. The brand also ensures its items are made using only tried and true traditional Italian craftsmanship.

One of the leading products by the maison is the Volo Non-Wallet, which is a minimalist wallet that aims to simplify your life. The wallet therefore only allows for essentials and limits what you carry to only what you really need for daily use.

The non-wallet is essentially a simple one-piece construct using butter soft high quality leather and good quality elastic bands. It has compartments for cards and another for cash.

Volo Goods

Apart from the Non-Wallet, Volo also makes other designs, as well as unique cardholders and accessories such as belts.


Malaysian eco-brand Ultra made waves all over the world when they debuted with funding from Kickstarter. Their environmentally-conscious approach to fashion won the hearts of many in the industry, even gaining them a spot at Paris Fashion Week.

Merging sustainability and style, the fashion brand also emerged as the Winner of the Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF) at the 2011 Innovation Award for using only recycled and organic materials in all their pieces.

One can also return all Ultra items after a year of wear as the brand highly emphasises their zero waste concept.

A project by designers Jonathan Liang, Tengku Jamidah, Syahmi and Anita Hawkins, the label makes its garments using Tencel, recycled polyester, biodegradable thermoplastic polyurethane and even salmon skin.



Tiga is a line of sketchbooks that embody beauty, art and soul. Conceptualised by artists Vince Low, Kerby Rosanes and Peisy Ting, Tiga – which means “three” in Malay – bring together the trio’s biggest passions of sketching, beautiful paper, and inspirational art.

Through the sketchbooks, the artists aim to spark the creativity of budding artists, be it in the form of simple doodles, elaborate colour drawings or everyday musings.

The beauty of the books begins on the cover, made from natural fibres like cellulose, algae and fruits sourced from Favini of Italy.

Daniel Craig by Vince Low (Photo: Tiga)

The cover is also where the artists showcase their own talents with each range of Tiga sketchbooks bearing the unique style of each artist. The art is then hot stamped in black foil which is elegant in look, and has a sense of permanency.

Other aspects of the book are well thought-out too, including the 128 blank inlay pages by Favini which carries a fine line of ink without feathering and the use of Smyth Binding which allows the book to open flat.

This article first appeared in uppre.com